Mount Marcy – Keene Valley, New York - Atlas Obscura

Mount Marcy

The summit Roosevelt conquered before he descended to become The Chief. 


Deep in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, Mount Marcy is the highest point in the state at 5,343 feet above sea level. A strenuous hike through pristine woodlands and alpine tundra leads to the summit.

It was this very summit that Vice President Theodore Roosevelt had just conquered when he got word that President William McKinley was not likely to survive the assassination attempt that took place a week earlier. A 10-mile hike down the mountain delivered him to a stage coach, which delivered him to the train, which delivered him to his presidency. 

The Adirondack Park is the size of the state of Vermont, and larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Grand Canyon, and Smoky Mountain National parks combined. Throughout the park are acres upon acres of woods and lakes, and 46 mountaintops known as the High Peaks. One can see 43 of them, and mountains in neighboring states, on a clear day from the summit of Mount Marcy.

The most popular route up Marcy is the Van Hoevenberg Trail, a 7.4 mile trail that can be hiked in a long day. This trail starts at the Adirondack Loj (yes, it’s spelled this way) and used to pass over Marcy Dam, which was destroyed by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Sections of the trail may require scrambling up steep rock fields. The trail allows for outstanding photography of the surrounding forest.

The summit is above tree-line and has roped-off sections of krummholz and tundra vegetation, as well as a plaque commemorating the 100th aniversary of Van Hoevenberg’s first recorded climb in 1837, and of course, an outstanding view on clear days.


Know Before You Go

From Lake Placid, NY, go south on Route 73 and turn on Adirondack Loj road. Park at the Loj ($5 for ADK member and $10 for nonmember day use ), and then hike the Van Hoevenberg Trail, marked by blue discs in the trees, for 7.4 miles to the summit.

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